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[ speaking japanese ] the countdown begins. japanese lawmakers get ready for a general election after the prime minister dissolves the country's lower house. welcome to nhk world "newsline." voters in japan have a date to mark on the calendar. prime minister yoshihiko noda dissolved the lower house of the diet and set a general election for sunday, december 16th. his democratic party has been in power since 2009. he's framing the vote as a choice between the politics of the past and the future.
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>> the speaker of the lower house formally announced the dissolution of the chamber. the campaign officially starts december 4th. voters go to the polls 12 days later. prime minister noda says he wants to restore public trust in politics. >> translator: i dissolved the lower house of the diet because i wanted to keep my promise. i'm seeking a new mandate following the passage of the bills on social security and tax system reforms upon which i staked my political life.
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the major issue in the upcoming general election is how to steer this country in 2013 and beyond. can we move forward, or do we turn back the clock and return to the old politics before the change of government? do we go forward, or do we step back? that's the issue the public will vote on. >> the democratic party carved out a historic victory three years ago ending more than 50 years of nearly unbroken rule by the liberal democratic party. but prime minister noda and his colleagues will have to fight to hold on to power. recent polls suggest the main opposition ldp could gain the most seats, but no party is expected to win a majority. that would mean leaders would have to negotiate to form a
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coalition government. prime minister noda will be going head to head with the leader of the main opposition liberal democrats. shinzo abe once held noda's job. he and his party are eager to get back into power. >> translator: we'll regain economic strength. a strong economy will serve as the basis of a reliable social security system. we'll also reestablish diplomatic relations. we'll make relations with the united states more reliable. the japan/u.s. alliance has been weakened under the democratic party government. >> abe says the liberal democratic party is well prepared for the election. he says it has reviewed its principles and streamlined its policies. there were mixed reactions from people around japan. >> translator: we are suffering so much in fukushima since last
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year's disaster. i don't understand why politicians cannot work together. >> translator: fukushima is slowly but steadily moving forward in its recovery. it would be regrettable if the momentum slows in the coming weeks. >> translator: i've been looking for a job for two months. i just want the government to create more jobs. >> a business leader expressed his hopes. >> translator: the private sector is trying its utmost to survive. we hope politicians will create a society and nation where those who make efforts are duly rewarded. campaign managers are already busy mapping out their tactics. nhk world's senior political commentator masayo nakajima has charted the strategy of countless campaigns. i asked him earlier what voters are thinking about.
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>> well, some will see -- take a look at this election as a referendum on noda's record, i think. you know, three years ago, the democrats rose to power on the public's desire for change. they ended more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by the liberal democratic party, or the ldp. they promised to cut government spending on such things as public works projects. they also said that they would reform the pension system. and they also vowed not to raise the consumption tax until 2013. but they have essentially broken all of these promises. and many people are frustrated with the decision to restart some nuclear reactors after what happened at the fukushima daiichi. in the long run, the dpj says
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japan should wean itself off nuclear power. the main opposition ldp on the other hand says that that idea is not practical and not responsible. >> you mentioned all the broken promises. with that said, how are voters looking at the various political parties including of course the ruling dpj and the main opposition parties right now? >> well, many people remember the main opposition and the former ruling ldp for the way it wasted taxpayers' money. they think that the party was controlled by bureaucrats and business interests. but voters have lost confidence in the current ruling democrats. after what some people would call an experiment with the dpj, the public now knows what to expect from that party. the ldp's approval rating is currently about twice that of the ruling democrats. voters who are tired of the established parties are considering a new political force, the so-called third pole. the mayor of osaka, toru hashimoto, and the former governor of tokyo, shintaro ra,
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new parties in an attempt to alter the dynamics of the nation's politics. >> so, masayo, what do you see on japan's political horizon after the election? >> well, polls suggest the main opposition ldp stands a good chance of taking the most seats, but, you know, no party is expected to win a majority in the lower house. if that's the case, those parties that succeed in forming a majority coalition will take power and form a new government. if the ruling dpj and the main opposition ldp with its partner new komeito together win a majority of seats, they could form a coalition government. that's exactly what prime minister noda wants. the three parties have already worked together on fiscal and electoral reform bills. they have also agreed to work on social security reform in the future.
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but the ldp may try to form a coalition with the third pole. but, you know, all these things will depend on how the seat allocation breaks down among the parties in the election. u.s. government officials always closely monitor elections in japan. one spoke to nhk, saying they believe there's a possibility that the liberal democratic party could regain power. meanwhile, japan's biggest neighbor has a demand for the next government. >> translator: what's urgently needed is that japan should take appropriate action to resolve existing problems and rebuild relations with china. >> analysts say chinese officials are waiting to see how the result of the election will affect ties between the countries. relations have been strained since the end of the summer when a long-standing dispute over islands in the east china sea flared up again.
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the fate of some major economic and energy policies planned under the noda administration is now up in the air following the dissolution of the lower house. the diet won't be able to consider these policies until after a new administration is sworn in following the general election. noda's government decided last month to spend nearly $5 billion trying to get the struggling economy going again. and on friday, the prime minister instructed his cabinet to draft a new stimulus package by the end of this month. noda said he would want his ministers to consider financing this new package partly through reserve funds totaling some $11 billion left in the budget for this fiscal year. his administration was planning to get the rest of the necessary money from a supplementary budget it was hoping to put together. now it's anyone's guess what will happen to these plans under an incoming administration.
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economic policy is not the only thing that is facing an uncertain future. so are plans for energy. in september, the government mapped out new energy measures. they included the termination of nuclear power generation by the 2030s. the government was also planning to come up by year end with a framework for introducing renewable and other forms of alternative energy. final decisions on these matters are made at meetings of the national policy minister, the economy, trade, and industry minister, and other cabinet officials. but it's now unclear whether such meetings will be held by the end of the year. in addition, debate on the country's comprehensive basic energy plan has been shelved. the plan was expected to address future electricity needs. senior diplomats from japan and north korea have wrapped up a round of talks in mongolia. they discussed a number of outstanding issues, including the abduction of japanese nationals during the 1970s and '80s.
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delegates from japan and north korea ended a two-day meeting friday in mongolia's capital, ulan bator. one of the main items on their agenda was tokyo's request to solve the abductions issue. >> translator: we had a frank exchange of views on the abduction of japanese citizens. we agreed to continue examining and discussing this issue based on the progress made so far and taking into account our respective positions. >> japan's envoy called for the return of japanese remains dating back to the evacuation of the korean peninsula around the end of world war ii. he also asked that japanese women who relocated to north korea with their spouses several decades ago be allowed to visit japan. north korean delegates said they were ready to cooperate on both issues. the two sides also agreed to discuss the north's nuclear and missile development programs.
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earlier i spoke to tetsuya endo, who was in charge of japanese negotiations with north korea in the 1990s. please tell us, what's your take on this latest round of negotiations? >> seems to me, in order to solve the difficult issues and problems, parties need to meet and discuss the matters. in this sense, ulan bator meeting this time was at least one step forward. in addition, the meeting decided to continue discussions later on and also the meeting dealt with a wide range of issues, including, most difficult perhaps, abductions. >> so there was meaning to this meeting. what do you think is north
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korea's motivation to continue a dialogue with japan? they have been silent for quite a number of years. >> it is four years. it seems to me there were two reasons behind the stance of north korea. one is the new regime of kim jong-un, was just one years old, needed to improve living conditions of the people. to that end, they wanted -- they may have wanted to have better relations with japan. that's one reason. the second reason for north korea diplomatically, the united states is a most important country. they would like to have relations, encounters with the united states. in order to pave the way to that end, they wanted to have good relations with japan as a precursor. >> what are the prospects for improvement in relations between
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pyongyang and tokyo? there are so many issues that need to be solved between the two countries. >> yes, there are so many. among them, most did i feel, important ones, there are three. one is abduction issues. number two -- not in the order of the priority, two is missile testing and nuclear problems. the third one, economic cooperation. those are three difficult issues or barriers. it's not so easy to solve those issues at once. perhaps it need time and endurance, efforts, special efforts, on both sides. out of them, perhaps most thorny or sensitive issue is abduction issues. yesterday, it was 35 years since
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yoko yokota-san was kidnapped. not just her but families of the victims are aging. >> yeah. obviously, time is running out. yes. >> exactly. time is running out. so that not so much time. we have to try to do our best to solve the issues. >> tetsuya endo, former official in charge of negotiations with north korea. u.s. president barack obama arrives in southeast asia on sunday for a tour that's causing controversy before it has even begun. patchari raksawong in bangkok has the story. president obama will visit thailand, myanmar, and cambodia on his first overseas trip since winning re-election earlier this month. now, myanmar is the destination that's making some observers unhappy. human rights groups say it's just too soon and the country's
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small steps towards democracy don't yet deserve a visit from the president of the united states. obama's national security adviser, tom donilon, defended the trip. he says it will advance the cause of reform in myanmar. >> the president's visit this time reflects his conviction that engagement is the best way to encourage burmese authorities to further action. >> human rights groups oppose the visit. they say the former pariah state has not achieved true democratic reform and ethnic minorities continue to face persecution. obama will meet his counterpart thein sein. donilon stressed obama will raise the issue of violence with against muslim rohina with myanmar's leaders. a week of violence last month claimed about 90 lives according to the official account. more than 100,000 people have been displaced. the white house says the
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improving u.s. relationship with myanmar is an example hostile nations could follow. >> that is a path that if the north koreans would address the nuclear issue it would be available to them. it is an important example for the leadership of north korea to contemplate. >> obama will begin his tour here in thailand. he will travel to myanmar on monday before visiting cambodia for the east asia summit. negotiators from the united states and afghanistan have started delicate discussions in kabul. they're trying to agree how many u.s. military personnel will remain in afghanistan after combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014. nhk world's hideki yui has more from kabul. >> the agreement that will provide reassurance to the afghan people that our
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partnership extends beyond 2014. >> reporter: negotiators aim to conclude an agreement that has the legal status and size of the u.s. forces kept in afghanistan after 2014. the taliban insurgency remains undefeated, and the questions persist over afghanistan's ability to handle its own security. keeping some sort of u.s. military capability on afghan soil seems increasingly necessary. u.s. president barack obama visited afghanistan in may. he signed the strategic cooperation treaty with his afghan counterpart, hamid karzai. the deal allows for an extended u.s. presence. the two nations are likely to agree that some u.s. special operations and air force units should remain. but further agreement may be harder to reach.
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one sticking point is the legal jurisdiction for any crimes committed by u.s. military personnel in afghanistan. allowing them to be governed by a u.s. court would likely trigger a strong backlash in afghanistan. observers said the afghan government is not ready to make concessions on the issue. negotiations may last for some time. hideki yui, nhk world, kabul. and that's going to wrap up our bulletin for today. i'm patchari raksawong in bangkok. emerging economic powers still struggling with poverty. emboldened citizens still demanding democracy. the threat of violence. the push for peace. the shadow of conflict. get news and insight on south and southeast asia every weekday "live from bangkok" only on nhk world "newsline."
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thousands of israeli reserve troops are being mobilized. the call-up comes as israel continues to launch aerial and artillery attacks on the gaza strip in response to missile strikes by the islamist group hamas. israeli aircraft attacked targets in gaza for the third straight day on friday, killing two people. the islamist group hamas and other palestinian militants are returning rocket fire. the israeli government began calling up 16,000 reserve troops after a rocket struck near the largest commercial city of tel aviv on thursday. tanks have also been deployed near the border with gaza. the attack on the densely populated city was the first since the gulf war about 20 years ago. air raid sirens sent residents running for shelter. in gaza, egypt's prime minister hisham qandil, met hamas leader ismail haniya on friday. qandil later visited a hospital to visit wounded people.
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he went on to denounce the bombings in front of israeli reporters. israel and egypt have an existing peace treaty, but relations have chilled since the fall of the government of president hosni mubarak. good weather isn't going to continue in tokyo according to our meteorologist robert speta. robert, tell us more. well, at least for the time being, some sunny skies, but take a look at the cloud cover coming in across korea and eastern china. that's pulling off here towards the east. on saturday morning, you're going to start to see some heavy rain showers in western japan, then eventually working its way off there towards the east throughout the evening hours, and even into sunday, some snow off towards northern honshu and into hokkaido is going to be expected here. but on saturday, these conditions are going to be rough at times, so very heavy rains up to 1 to 1 1/2 centimeters. of rain across the country is expected. that's not just going to cause some flooding but even landslides in some of the steeper elevations here, so you definitely want to be on guard for that.
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hail and even the risk of a tornado in some of these very strong cells as this continues to push off here towards the east. and then behind it, we have this high pressure building in, but with that, that's going to bring us some much cooler temperatures not only over here towards china, korea, but even into japan, including tokyo. temperatures are going to get down to about 5 to 6 degrees below the normal temperatures should be for this time of year. now, farther towards the west, though, i want to quickly point at the bay of bengal here. we are watching a tropical depression at this time slowly working its way off here towards the north. but around bangladesh and eastern india, going into the early part of next week, you'll be wanting to watch this. going to be some heavy rainfall coming out of it. as far as temperatures, though, hong kong with a high of 22 on your saturday, chongqing at 20, minus 6 in ulan bator, and over here towards tokyo, getting down to 15. but once again, going into sunday, even monday, it is going to be getting much chillier than that, highs only going to be around 10 degrees. over towards the americas, high pressure is dominating. what that means, big capping dome here of clear skies is on tap. some cool temperatures, but it's
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going to be fairly nice here going through your weekend. across the west coast, though, not so much the case. we have a few pacific storm systems pushing onshore here bringing with it some heavy rainfall, reducing visibilities out across the areas. if you're flying out of vancouver, seattle, even san francisco, check your flights out ahead of time. they could be delayed or canceled. and then farther inland, skiers are going to be happy. some heavy snow will be falling into the rockies across british columbia, even down there towards california. but if you're driving across this area, even towards denver, do slow down. some of the white stuff will be coming out of the skies across much of these areas. temperatures, winnipeg, a high of zero towards the north, chicago at 10. if we look at the east coast, a pair of 11s there in new york and washington, d.c. and then into europe, also continuing to watch a storm system push onshore across portugal and spain. as this does move overhead, it is already creating some high wind and heavy waves and even heavy rain warnings there in
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portugal, eventually into spain. then we'll watch this into the early part of the workweek on monday and tuesday. there could be some severe weather out there towards the central mediterranean and even over towards italy. you're already seeing some rough weather due to this low-pressure area pushing out across this area. we're seeing storm warnings in effect as this continues to move overhead and bringing with it heavy rain. north of it, though, look at these clear skies. one thing you are watching is some fog, especially through the early morning hours, there in poland. that's going to dramatically reduce the visibility so slow down on the roads. as far as temperatures, single digits into the east, but getting into the double digits in london and paris with a pair of 12s. now here's a look at your extended forecast. ♪
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recapping our top story, people in japan will vote in a general election next month. prime minister yoshihiko noda dissolved the lower house of the diet.
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>> the speaker of the lower house announced the dissolution of the chamber. voting day is december 16th. noda later said he is keeping the promise he made to seek a new mandate after reforming the social security and tax systems. he said the main focus of the election is whether to move forward or go back to the old political ways of the liberal democratic party, currently the main opposition. noda's democratic party beat the ldp in the 2009 election. senior diplomats from japan and north korea have wrapped up a round of talks in mongolia. they discussed a number of outstanding issues, including the abduction of japanese nationals during the 1970s and '80s. delegates from japan and north
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korea ended a two-day meeting friday in mongolia's capital, ulan bator. one of the main items on their agenda was tokyo's request to solve the abductions issue. >> translator: we had a frank exchange of views on the abduction of japanese citizens. we agreed to continue examining and discussing this issue based on the progress made so far and taking into account our respective positions. >> japan's envoy called for the return of japanese remains dating back to the evacuation of the korean peninsula around the end of world war ii. he also asked that japanese women who relocated to north korea with their spouses several decades ago be allowed to visit japan. north korean delegates said they were ready to cooperate on both issues. the two sides also agreed to discuss the north's nuclear and missile development programs.
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we'll be back with more updates in 30 minutes. i'm gene otani in tokyo. q
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PBS November 16, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm PST

News/Business. World events, business news and weather forecasts; broadcast in English. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY North Korea 11, U.s. 11, Tokyo 8, Afghanistan 7, Nhk 6, United States 4, Mongolia 4, Bangkok 3, Kabul 3, Yoshihiko Noda 2, Noda 2, Thailand 2, Ldp 2, Barack Obama 2, Islamist Group Hamas 2, Hideki Yui 2, Israel 2, China 2, Cambodia 2, Us 2
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